tv Native Americans and Foreign Disease CSPAN October 11, 2015 4:48pm-6:01pm EDT
emotional experiences. ♪ >> from 1970 nine until the wars and in february, 1989, it is estimated nearly one million afghan civilians died while several million refugees fled the country, many to neighboring pakistan. according to the national security archive, the u.s. congress provided nearly $3 billion in covert money and arms to the afghan mujahedin fighters in the 1980's.
in this 1983 photograph, president reagan meets with a group of afghan commanders in the white house. matteluary of 1988, gorbachev announced the soviet government would withdraw their 100,000 troops from afghanistan. the final troop withdrawal was one year later. next on american history tv, an author and historian explains why native americans were so vulnerable to european-introduced diseases. indigenous populations had little to no exposure to diseases like smallpox or to colonization. however, illness was only one piece of a larger puzzle in the native populations don't fall. the kansas city public library at the university of kansas school of medicine hosted this event. it's about one hour and 18 minutes.
>> i'm the director of the kansas city public library. it's a pleasure to have paul here to talk about cherokee medicine and colonial germs, the topic of his recent book. we are honored to have him here and are equally honored that this is cosponsored by the kansas city school of medicine's department of history and philosophy. this is a great topic and when i'm interested in because at least on my mother's side of the family, we claim to be part cherokee. her grandmother claimed to be half cherokee. so i am particularly interested tonight. i'm also particularly interested because this is a big part of the history of this part of the world. many of you will know about the and the march of the cherokee nation into kansas and oklahoma.
but you probably don't know what you will hear tonight is some of the history of some of the cherokee before they were sent by andrew jackson and others across america in the trail of tears. not just a story of victimization, but it is that as well, not just the victims of government, but of disease and cultures coming into contact. member about the cherokee and native populations encountersy had many , along with the white settlers who came from europe. themselves re-create over and over again as a culture and civilization. the cherokees in particular are a good example of that. tonight, you will hear about that.
i want to tell you a little bit about paul. moments like this, i go to the website, rate my professor.com. ratedd that paul has been and eight minus. i'm wondering why he was not in looked at the website and there are statements after statement -- one of the best professors i've ever had, a great besser, excellent teacher. so i did not understand why there would be a minus and then i found statements -- he forces you to do your homework. [laughter] classes are mandatory. this is really hard work. so now i understand why there is a minus.
he is the author of many articles in prominent journals germs" books -- "beyond from the university of arizona press and the topic of tonight, "cherokee medicine -- an indigenous -- an indigenous fight against smallpox. it's a pleasure to welcome him to talk to you tonight. [applause] paul: it's good to be speaking to an audience that actually wants to be here. hopefully i will get that a. i want to thank the kansas city public library. this is an idea from the
department of history and philosophy and i would like to thank them for setting this up. and thank you all for coming out tonight. i think it's opening night for the nfl tonight. i'm just glad the chiefs are playing. thank you and thank you for that wonderful introduction. looking forward to speaking to you about my but. this has been a work in progress for quite some time. i started doing this a long time ago and got off some other projects and came back to it. i think the inspiration came in 1996 when i was looking for pigs in the library. at that time, the university of oklahoma's library, is looking for a dissertation topic. readot moment came as i
through some grainy microfilm of letters. cherokeesamong the and i was looking about those pigs for references to pigs or see if i can find how cherokees conceived of this animal. it was an animal europeans introduced after 1492. he had run across references to cherokee women keeping eggs and feeding their people with pigs as early as the 1750's. this is a time in which cherokees were suffering from a depletion of wild game animals. as something of a found them. that native peoples were adapting to the changes resulting from european colonization. --tead of pigs, i found this
this is a description of a smallpox ceremony the cherokees had made part of their medical ritual after being introduced to what was the most dangerous disease europeans brought to the americans and its indigenous inhabitant. i had never read anything like and i will give you a second to read this. [laughter] ceremony captivated me as did the larger collection of the rich materials and papers . the papers have been published by the university of nebraska press, but perhaps it was good for me at the time, not good for my eyes, that they had not been published. smallpoxhad given little attention. so what did they record about the cherokees and smallpox?
papers offered a glimpse into how cherokees conceived of smallpox, with a believed cause the epidemics of the disease, and what they did to protect themselves from this deadly germ. let me get to the heart of this talk by summarizing what i learned. cherokees had a name for smallpox that is a kind of double predisposed to evil. it appears to be a malevolent entity, different from the variety of ordinary spirits that move from each level of the cosmos. cherokee referred to it as a kind of people with the females being the color of a ripe poke very. the female gave the infection from someone who touch her fine red temples. they only slept at midnight and
roamed the pats people ordinarily traveled. still, they were tools of larger entities. likely the thunder boys who lived in the western skies. the cherokee conceived of the western skies and the west in general is a place of death and darkness represented i the color black. it was likely the thunder boys that led it to send upon the cherokees when they committed transgressions. transgressions were not as the missionaries interpreted it, as individual sins, but collective transgressions. people who forgot to perform their ceremonies or practice thus theymonies and lost spiritual power that protected them honors. when they were expected to be one of their -- near one of their villages, the cherokees performed a smallpox ceremony which is the improbable as a show of a medical -- and
improvisation of a medical miracle. herbsosen priest gathered into a communal pot and the group of seven chosen individuals carefully maintained the fire. the community consumed medicine buckhe grease sacrificed a and perform divination. ceremonialted the fire by rubbing two pieces of us would together and maintained it from the east side of the tree, free of world josh free of worms and rot. as i learned later, it was believed to be resistant to lightning and thus held great spiritual power. particularly on the east side, because encounter veiled the spirits on the west side. smallpox ceremony with
basswood, cherokee medicine was infused with spiritual powers capable of defeating thunderous creations. the cherokees called upon a number of other spiritual powers to counter veiled those that caused smallpox. throughout the seven days that it lasted, participants had strict prohibition on their movements. round common pants and rested for a short time at midnight, people could not safely travel. move froms could only their townhouse or dwelling to acquire food. if people had to leave the village, they left their town only at midnight and traveled through the woods rather than the main route. this ceremony shut cherokee villages off from the outside world, limiting contact. i did not understand the full meaning of smallpox ceremonies features when i first read it.
i'm sure i still don't understand everything and there are things i will not understand. but at the time, one thing was quite clear to me. there is more to understanding the experience of indigenous peoples with introduced diseases than what scholars at the time were teaching us. igs, inch for paid, -- p some sense was a revisionist exercise. cherokee women keeping hogs complicated the historians acclaimed interpretations of how europeans came to displaced indigenous peoples and him and saying -- dominate so much of the globe. this articulated in his seminal works, published in 1972 and later reissued, and another in 1986. these works in terms of crosby's
overall work explains that introducedrope diseases could flourish, native populations plummeted and their land was easily acquired by newcomers. igs played a role. they were a weedy species. when they were let loose their wound up in the best needed fields. in that woods they are eating wild food sources that wild game depending upon, and the wild game would have to move on. pigs put native people in a vulnerable position. those cherokee women and herds meswine were teaching something else. natives were adapting and surviving. i did not envision my search for archival pigs would lead me to thought was an unquestionable part of the columbian exchange. that is, natives could do very
little to protect themselves against the most dangerous of european introduced weedy species. the smallpox virus, or very a viriola major. i'm sure many of you -- has anybody read this article? i'm sure you have. andas a graduate student, many generations of students have read this and referred to the ideas as the verdant soil thesis. many of you have not read this, i suspect it is -- it's ideas sound familiar. let me summarize out third crosby's -- alfred crosby's thesis. according to crosby, natives were immunologically almost defenseless. have practiced that all day and i nailed it. [laughter]
they were immunologically almost defenseless against communicable diseases. the defenses, antibodies created after surviving an infection, were universally absent in native bodies in 1492, because the diseases that would cause production were absent. smallpox was not in america before europeans brought it. many other diseases were not here either. after 1492, germs found their way into native communities, which virgin soil epidemics occurred. employee the metaphor of a wild crosby states the initial appearance of these diseases is as certain to have set off deadly epidemics, like dropping lighted matches into tender, certain to cause fires. germs even outpaced the colonizers. crosby maintained diseases spent
-- spread beyond the purview of observers igniting outbreaks and went unrecorded. the demise of indigenous peoples was a historical accident. this is alfred crosby saying this, not me. the colonizers exercised little agency in the catastrophe and where the unwitting beneficiaries. he bows this done in 1986 in his magnum opus. in other words, it was the idea that europeans came, their simple arrival, accidentally bringing germs, led to the unintended consequence of germs spreading like wildfire way beyond where they initially sweeping aside in dg needs and opening the americas. as early as the 15 20's you have smallpox spreading out of mexico into canada and down to south
america. crosby's virgin soil thesis not only explains why diseases spread so fast over great thesis -- distances but also proposes why extreme mortality occurred. a serious andd potentially lethal illness for anyone, whether native american, european or african. germ wasrope, the endemic. it was permanently there, and often contracted during childhood. when it struck previously unexposed populations in america, it affected all age groups. according to crosby, this led to the collapse of social services, as men and women in the prime of their lives became ill and no one was there to care for the sick, acquire food and protect from enemies. scoredty rates also
because natives did not know how to respond. he argues traditional customs, though effective against pre-columbian diseases, where rarely so against infections from of the -- abroad. he also said they had no conception of contagious diseases, could not practice quarantine and did not do so until europeans introduced them to this. he characterized native healers as inept and ignorant, and susceptible to destructive reactions. responses, crosby concludes, where as fairly as the germ themselves. you can see from this description of his work, i have spent a lot of time summarizing it because it has been something
that if you were a student of history, you understated and incorporated it into your lectures. if you are writing about indigenous peoples, this is a beginning point. when i can also see, read the smallpox ceremony and why i became captivated, the cherokee's response to one of colombian exchanges of disease did not match what i had been taught. and i knew i needed to turn my attention away from the pigs and look instead for germs. look at evidence of them in the archival, archaeological and ethnographic records for what such evidence could tell us about the indigenous experience with germs and whether this evidence sustained the virgin soil thesis. questioning the virgin soil thesis would be no easy task. it helps great interpretive sway and continues to do so in the scholarly and popular literature. it serves as a convenient explanation of one of world
huge fit --st phenomenon, the dispossession of indigenous people and the placement of european and african populations in the americas. jared diamond, for example, relied heavily on crosby's work. probably a third of you have read this book. this one the pulitzer prize -- won the pulitzer prize for history. ideas and runs's with it. he articulates this, saying it was advanced and destroyed the native communities before europeans could even get there. similarly, charles mann. they take these ideas and run with them. ofn won the national academy
texaco words for the year and claimed native tribes were destroyed by things weapons -- that they cannot control and did not know they had. mann also use a colorful simile to demonstrate his point. smallpox irradiated through the incan empire like inc. spreading through tissue paper before europeans ever arrived, again, referring to the idea that out of mexicom smallpox spread in the 15 20's, when through central america, arrived in peru before cortez showed up and the disease was out of control. you get the image that nothing could stop it. again, you can imagine having read the description of the smallpox ceremony, i knew i had something of significance. but i did not immediately question all assets of the
virgin soil thesis. i focused on only one particular part of the thesis originally. that was the suppose it enough news of natives dealing with -- ptness of natives dealing with the disease. thought, waswhat i ample evidence among not only the cherokee, but their neighbors, the muskogee's, choctaws and chickasaws, to show indigenous people conceptualize smallpox in their cosmology. they did construct a ceremony and the even practiced quarantine when individuals became infected. they had quarantine practices that predated european arrival. this research culminated in a in the journal of etna history. i will not ask how many people have read that. [laughter] at the same time that i'm dealing with the cultural response, disease, i'm ed and diseases
themselves. how do they spread? this came with the encouragement of the doctor at the indian health services in oklahoma city, and a faculty member at the university of oklahoma health sciences center. this is serendipitous. a friend of mine in the masters of public health program by chance suggested i contact him and talk about my project. i did, and goodness. in our initial meeting i explained in the virgin selfies's and the idea of hemispheric pandemics. he got this puzzled look on his face. told him that had ancient aliens had visited the earth and built the pyramids. something no reputable venue of history would give the time of day. in other words, he was immediately skeptical. i was not skeptical at the time, this was in the late 1990's. you have these hemispheric pandemics.
but as i was talking to him, he pulled out a book, a disease manual. he went through it and to the section on smallpox and began reading. he wouldn't know it off the top of his head, because think goodness, he has not had to treat it, it has been eradicated across the globe since the 1970's. nonetheless he went through the manual, and started reading to me details about smallpox. by caught the nasty germ breathing in the virus, usually directly from an infected person acceleration. -- exhalation. once infected, the virus is incubated for 10-14 days before symptoms appear. during this time the disease was not contagious. it was contagious once the symptoms of. , and was contagious for about two weeks. as a historian in training, i don't give these facts much
attention. i knew it was deadly, i knew it started with an extreme fever and got its name by the gruesome pustules, but i don't think i fully comprehended it was much more different to catch then za, but could be spread further due to its unique nature. but these facts matter. i found my senior colleagues had not given the much attention, either. historians, anthropologists, and journalists, particularly writing in the 1990's in the wake of the clinton tenney all of columbus is fateful -- quinn centennial of the fateful voyage. that they raced through dispersed population, jumped across mountains and deserts,
leapt over contested boundaries between warring peoples. these are actually words i found in textbooks, prescribing diseases. diseases inflicted mortality rates unheard of in some peopley, referring to 90% of native populations being wiped out. hayes is very skeptical as i was myself. i asked dr. hayes about blankets, the idea that colonizers deliberately infected native peoples with blankets contaminated with smallpox. he explained to me that viruses, people with smallpox, were susceptible to heat and humidity, and conditions had to be just right for transmission, including smallpox which could be conveyed by way of scabs from victims that were bundled in cloth materials. but this had to be under the
right circumstances, cool temperatures and low humidity. since that fateful meeting with dr. hayes, i have had the manual by myseases side every time i write about diseases. the major take away is that each disease has a unique nature, and we cannot just expect each and every disease to corrupt like wildfire. this led me to read more deeply on the history of diseases, epidemics, human health and medicine, and led me to become quite skeptical of all aspects of the virgin soil thesis. the work of the historian david jones has also been important in the development of my thinking. this is another one of those serendipitous moments. i think it was in 2002, my colleague invited me to a talk at the university of kansas , by professor
jones of harvard. i had not heard of professor jones, but i let it -- later learned he was working on a book . i almost decided not to go. i had carried my infant daughter and i do not want to have the hassle of finding a babysitter. but he talked me into it, so i hired a babysitter, made the trip to kansas city. did -- thinki goodness i did. professor jones emphasized how a generation of scholars had misread the virgin soil thesis to mean, natives lack genetic thus inadvertently supporting racist views of white europeans were able to conquer. immunity implies somehow that people in europe and africa and asia had gone through generations of natural selection, exposed to diseases,
survived and they are passing on superior genes to offspring that will allow us ring to deal better with diseases. genetic immunity is very rare. a disease has to be a very ancient disease for genetic immunity to develop. smallpox is a relatively new disease in terms of human. evolution. it has not been around long enough for the community to develop. it is unprovable, how can you prove there is genetic immunity? nonetheless scholars were falling into the trap by inflating acquired immunity with genetic immunity and saying indians lack immunity, which is nonsense. genetic immunity was not appropriate from a scientific point of view, and focusing on the lack of immunity on the skirt of social and economic factors, particularly poverty
had created historic health disparities. what i concluded from my research and serendipitous learning, is we had the wrong focus. instead of focusing on the naivete of native bodies, the focus should be on disease ecology. vulnerabilities stand not simply from lack of acquired immunity, but depended on a number of ecological variables. for example, the extent to which communities were connected to the outside world through intercourse. -- trade intercourse. also, how communities were built. were they composed of dispersed homesteads overlarge areas or nuclear, in a small compact village? once infected, chances of death also become the ecological question. lacking acquired immunity does not lead to death automatically.
one must consider overall health based on nutrition, pathogen load, and trauma. these ecological variables, moreover, are subject to historical change. that is where i hope to move the debate with my first look. -- book. work, published in 2007, i ask these questions. did native communities in the south have a pre-existing disease ecology that made them vulnerable to diseases introduced far away, and if so which diseases? how did european colonization's of variousase groups? i found it was improbable that the deadliest diseases europeans introduced, including smallpox,
affected native peoples living great distances from point of first contact, or had only fleeting direct contact with europeans. simply because europeans showed up does not mean they bring smallpox and does not mean it will spread. documentary, archaeological and oral history indicate the first catastrophic epidemic that occurred in the native southeast, did so in the 16 90's -- much later than other historians say. this was because the english had a massiveme, built slave trade network that link indigenous communities to the larger atlantic world. in other words, the english changed disease ecology of the native southeastern communities in such a way to make them vulnerable to widespread epidemic and catastrophic mortality. i can illustrate this with three slides.
virginia was bottled up, for the first couple of decades of history. 50's, they0's and begin to expand out and make contact with native groups in the carolina piedmont's. sioux that spoke a language. they had an allied tribe, soon i graded from the savanna -- who moved down to and the savanna. they were treating with cherokees as well. what they are treating for mice apprise you. they are bringing guns, cloth, all rum, kinds of manufactured material to native communities. what they are getting in return where people. the native tribes are reading
other tribes for captives -- r for captivestribes and they were taken to plantations in urging your. this created a population -- plantations in virginia. refugee communities moving into alabama and georgia and florida. south carolina expanded this native slave trade. south carolina, charleston was founded in 1670. they ally with many of the groups that had been preyed upon by virginia's allies. the creeks and chickasaws, began ai ford captives in the mississippi valley and gulf coast. they were purchased by carolinians, shipped along the network to charleston, and tens of thousands of slaves are being sent into the west indies and
sold. theften think of slavery in colonies as people of african descent being enslaved. of course, that becomes the norm and the volume of african slaves to worse -- dwarfs that of natives. but indian slavery was a precursor to african slavery. if we go back and look at virginia, and you have that image in your mind, this created a shattered zone. people are moving in greater volumes than ever before. refugees fleeing, humans trafficked, going from distant locations to places like jamestown. a lot of people on the move. and then when smallpox is introduced in 1696 in virginia, there was a massive epidemic. the great southeastern smallpox epidemic, verified and documents. it covered a vast region.
why did it do so? the volume of human traffic was unprecedented at the time, something that did not happen before europeans came. more other -- moreover, the people were vulnerable because they were living in compact, nuclear settlements, victims of aree trades, because they fearful, need to protect themselves. they are often malnourished because they cannot go out and hunt. in a compact village, they are subject to all kinds of diseases, that were indigenous to the americas like bacterial infections. the great southeastern smallpox wasemic, in other words, not the consequence of a highly lethal diseased being introduced to an immunologically naive population, but was a consequence of a violent form of colonialism.
what i did not do in epidemics was focus onnt, what initially led me to question the virgin soil thesis in the first place. the evidence of how natives responded creatively and effectively to novel diseases. this is a tough decision for me. i had originally planned on reworking the f no history article at the chapter of the ethno- no histo -- history article at the last chapter of the book. reworking it would have been seen as an add-on that distracted from a focused thesis based on disease ecology. it would seem tacked on like, by the way, natives had medicine to deal with the diseases. i think i made the right call based on the reasons i gave you, but i would not be telling the truth.
i needed to wrap things up.the tenure clock was ticking. i needed to get the book done. i sent it to the press, and it got published. i got tenure, thank you. ku i have enjoyed being at ever since. i was happy that the book garnered positive reviews in turn -- in terms of challenging the idea of epidemics. part of me was unsatisfied that i had not given the part of the story which natives actively responded to diseases. readers learned nothing of the cherokee's smallpox ceremony. epidemics and enslavement also ended up being a book quite different from what i thought i would write about amid my graduate training.
i always thought i would write a book about indigenous survival to illustrate how a mid-to traumas of colonialism, resilient indigenous groups used their own agency to protect himself and cultures, and survive in distinct -- as distinct peoples. those of us who did graduate training in the 1990's embraced ,he call to focus on agencies we went to uncover native voices and beyond the pictures of helpless victims. wary of this call, when i had classes of my own to teach. as i thought more about the ethics of teaching, what is right for a teacher to discuss, and what should be left out? what does a teacher emphasize downplay?oes one
we can't cover everything, we have to make choices. the importance of thinking deeply about the ethical dilemmas of teaching history became quite obvious to me in a particular moment in my first experience constructing a large lecture class at the university of oklahoma. i taught a survey of u.s. history from the civil war to 220 students, most of them freshmen. i carefully crafted a series of lectures from the book i read in my graduate seminars. thoughtthat i represented the most up-to-date and accurate view of american history. letters i wrote was on african american culture in the antebellum south, with the goal of showing how slaves preserved the dignity and self preservation within the institution of slavery. i talked about religion, folktales, kinship, the arts of resistance, how slaves would mock their masters without the masters knowing it. talked about a number of things that represented african-american agency. i thought i did a great job. perhaps i did in terms of
presentation with the bells and whistles. when i lecture, i do get out in the crowd and walk around and ask people questions. i would probably drive c-span crazy if i did that. so i thought i did a good job. but i remember, i was walking down the aisle and up the stairs, and had this sinking, sick to my stomach feeling. did i just invent 220 convince my students that slavery wasn't bad? on a day to day basis, slaves were subjected to inhumane treatment, treatment such as having their sons and daughters sold off to another plantation owner, treatment like being whipped or raped.
peopleust convince 220 that slavery wasn't bad? taughtt class, you bet i about the brutality of slavery so that i would have that balance of victimization and agency that needed to be in my original lecture. because mys up experience as a teacher has been crucial to me as a scholar. the stories we tell our important. we may not publish a book that is front and center of an airport shop, but it would be neat if it were there. there are so many wonderful , i wantom my colleagues historyll of my teammates get published and well.
ourimportant fact is that scholarship and forms next generation of teachers, textbook writers, and online educators. consequently, we should never lose sight of the fact that our research will shape our future students understand history. important because of that continuing question that we assume to be true. be trueat we assume to can often be pretty dangerous if left unchallenged. so i approached the research on would become much more conscious on the dangers of over emphasizing either the agency or the victimization. i tried to do this as thoroughly and evenly as i could. of anreated a story indigenous nation's fight against salt -- smallpox. they did this in a way that
inhibited their ability to protect themselves. the cherokee smallpox ceremonies only went so far. was constantly solicited as a partner of trading adventures and they were repetitively invaded by armies in using of a scorched earth process. lows tagged along with a violence of colonialism and did a great deal of damage. through it all, cherokees sustain their medicine beyond the clone -- beyond the club -- colonial era. i don't wish to describe the full details of this story. tolde that i faithfully the story about how this book came into being and the academic and public arguments i seek to engage. i hope in doing so i will entice a few of you to read it.
nevertheless, let me offer a teaser on a particular type of evidence that is often employed to narrate disease impact on native peoples and the preponderance of such evidence. my book poses a forceful critique of scholarship based on times and places, anecdotes that have not been subjected to much scholarly scrutiny. when you read about it, you read about disease impact on native peoples, and what you often get is a litany of anecdotes, of an observation of a spanish person in new mexico or a puritan in new england. being putdotes together is one linear narrative of death and destruction.
to howas no question as these anecdotes may have infused each others and other writers would often plagiarize each other in marrying these stories of this disease. let me turn your attention to one of these anecdotes that supposedly verifies an epidemic occurred in the cherokee people in 1780. i know not all of you can read it, but forgive me for reading my slide. the author states: will state here that, though but a small boy at the time, i recollect a well the reports of the great and terrible mortality which prevailed in the cherokee nation after the capture of stewart's boat. without doubt, the wretches paid
dearly for their booty. it was said that when they were attacked with smallpox and the fever was upon them that they took a heavy sweat in their houses and the purpose than a left from that -- left into the river and died by scores." is ane is alluding to event that happened 77 years before. in the storyortant i am going to tell here. on march eighth, 1780, some cherokee lawyers captured members of the john donaldson around where nashville is today. that was the founding event of what later became the state of tennessee. the only source that we have of the cherokee's capture of the family was john donaldson, senior. on original journal stops
march 7. 8e remaining events, march onwards, were filled in later, perhaps in the 1820's white donaldson's son -- by donaldson's son. made no mention of the cherokees actually becoming sick. he only says the stewart family family, before they were captured, were diseased with smallpox. after march 8, the donaldson party sailed away. they would have no idea what happened among the cherokees. words, we would have to infer from donaldson's journal how the cherokees were infected and how they responded.
we just have to imagine it. it is not hard to imagine that, of course, but it is imagination. imaginativen process of remembering the smallpox epidemic among the cherokees in the 1780's. more the event became written about, the larger and more sick big and the event he came. -- hisated his represent recollections of scores dying into the hundreds. theodore roosevelt was a historian before he became president and roosevelt uses this to write about this event as part of his larger story of manifest destiny. roosevelt gave a timeframe for the disease of some months and put the deathtoll at multitudes.
this nationalistic narrative made germs into united actors and turned into a grand, celebratory story of american expansionism. story of the epidemic of 1780 recent in relatively histories with scholars often citing each other to record the epidemic as fact. the latest case of this is in an otherwise excellent book, "pox americana," citing the donaldson journal, it claims "a disastrous turn upon the cherokee. the indians soon had to face an onslaught of anglo american expansion. it is worth noting here as well
her overall conclusion. very old was the fiber's of the empire, it made winners and losers and determined whom -- very old was the virus of the empire, it made winners and losers and determined whom would win." with this,problem but british records report on happenings among the cherokee of that year and there is no reference to disease within their nation. scholarsst of other got suckered into using frontier mythology and fact. that is not hard to do. we are often dealing with sources that have been contaminated with frontier mythology. i am sorry -- i am sure that some are going to go back into my work and look for that as well. book,mericana" is a great
this information has been passed down from generation to generation. can't be certain that no epidemic happened. ,t is possible that smallpox either captured through the stuarts or got in some other way was spread through multiple villages. it is possible that the british, who were on hand and working with the cherokees, it is possible that the epidemic escaped the british attention and left the documentary record. i am skeptical of that. what i am more concerned about is that to assume this epidemic, one would obscure this fact that the cherokees are capable of spreading the disease through smallpox ceremonies and would shut off contact from the outside world and the cherokees would have responded with far
more effectiveness that imagined. there was this idea that they would go heat themselves in hot houses and jump into frigid water. you see that constantly in literature and it should ways -- should raise a red flag. these people are plagiarizing. moreover, no discussion of this orothetical epidemic could should take place outside of the american revolution. the cherokees suffered during the revolution because a faction of cherokees chose to fight against the americans and took military aid from the british, and in response, american live shows invaded the cherokee nation numerous times and enacted scorched earth tactics that led to hunger and
captivity. this made winners and losers. that ifhe violence germs had come, if smallpox had come, it would have happened in a violent context. this would weaken their resistance of the naked -- of .he native bodies contemporary scholars would readily acknowledge the horror that natives faced amongst the brutal warfare waged against them, but the fabricated memory of a tennessee scholar should no longer be allowed to cover up the revolution and the legacy of smallpox. -- thisthis paper gated fabricated memory serves as a metaphor of the totality of my book. germs were certainly a part of the colonial experience, that they were not single actors
doing something outside of what human actors created. , this obscuresch the complicated and troubling legacy of the european invasion of the americas. thank you. [applause] >> if you want us to take your questions, would you please come up to the microphone in the front? we've got one right here. yeah, professor, it has been said that the europeans were able to con allies africa but not occupy africa. allies -- colonize africa but not occupy africa.
do you believe that we would have been able to calling -- co lonize and that the germs were what were bringing their numbers so low that what was left could not stand up to american military power? do you believe that to be the case? dr. kelton: i am not saying that germs played no role. germs obviously played a catastrophic role. what i am saying is the role that they played cannot be seen outside of this violent context. when you reconstruct the epidemics, they spread often because you see an expansion of trade or of military conflict. for example, what most people know is that the french and indian war was an incredibly violent time. troops, youead of get the spread of these
diseases. in america, disease plays a different role than it does in africa because in africa, what you are dealing with our tropical diseases which really struck the colonizers worse than did the natives there. in more temperate climates like in north america, you don't have that as much. did native american indian diseases that europeans weren't ready for, and did that take out in any significant way, europeans? would they succumb to native american diseases that they weren't ready for? dr. kelton: not necessarily. there were certainly diseases in the americas and these were your typical bacterial infections, -- fungus,s, and some kind of waterborne
diseases, the english settlers came and settled in an area where typhoid, malaria, and other diseases took a devastating toll. malaria was introduced but typhoid we are not sure. do deadly work on europeans, but it wasn't necessarily that these were absent in europe, either. it was that the consequence of settling in very unhealthy areas caused it. but there is not kind of an equivalent to smallpox in america. many people often cite syphilis as an example. ubiquitous kind of through human societies through 1492. it was probably not introduced, the latest scholarly thinking now views it as not introduced. >> could you put the map back up for a moment?
dr. kelton: sure. the original map that i had up first? >> the one that shows the outline of the -- the cherokeeton: nation? >> no, i think it was the last map, actually. dr. kelton: the epidemic? >> yes, that one. i am from southeast texas and it there werestanding, not cherokees in southeast texas, so i apologize if i am getting you off track here, what my understanding was is that the natives in southeast texas died and since they are not included there with your routes and stuff, i don't know
whether, do you have any opinions if they died of different diseases? necessarilyi don't have an informed opinion, but i have questions. ,f we are going to examine that the impact of diseases on a natives in southeast texas, what we want to look at again is how their settlements were built, why was the nature of their -- whatwith europeans was the nature of their contact with europeans, and were they hunted as slaves? was the re-drive of human trafficking going on with new spain with rates going up into texas? were those things affecting the native groups? think,e questions, i need to be asked, and that's where i hope my scholarships have an impact.
does the model that i paid in the southeast apply to every region? probably not. good way ofa looking at this instead of applying this metaphor. lines, i willhose point you to, maybe you are familiar to the book "mosquito" and i am not familiar with the names of the two authors, but it is about the slave trade, yellow fever, and how they got together. but the other thing i wanted to say is about mexico and cortez rumors statements and that the diseases went before cortez and they wiped out indian populations, native mexican populations, before he got there.
in answering that, about what you think whether that was true or not, please consider that that 10 day incubation canod, you know, people travel a long distance in 10 days and they can be at another community and in fact it at that time and then once they are ill people will not have seen the smallpox. the cherokee ritual that you pointed to was something that but howne tribe had long did it take them to develop it and was it uniform throughout and thatkee nation would have been after cortez, also, i'm sorry -- dr. kelton: well i answer some of those questions in the book.
[laughter] dr. kelton: smallpox came after cortez began his contract -- conquest. he began his conquest with a civil war in the aztec empire larger, more is a densely settled population, so yeah, there you would have a major epidemic. >> thank you for this work, it is really important and it is just really timely and i just wanted to know what your inspiration was to do this and study this particular area and any, washat extent, if [indiscernible] an inspiration for you in early research? dr. kelton: the inspiration for this, i mean, i have always been the passionate about
cherokee people growing up in northeast oklahoma. don't speak on behalf of the cherokee nation but i certainly want to tell a story of their survival. been kind of why i have gotten into cherokee history. then, i of howard admire his passion and his criticism of these grand narratives of american ofeptionalism, and a lot those narratives of american exceptionalism are very high and secure. i want to show how germs have become part of this exceptional as narrative. why is john carr talking about the cherokee dying of diseases like smallpox but ignoring the fact that militias out of virginia and north carolina nearly destroyed dozens of cherokee villages? that is not mentioned in the narrative. >> [indiscernible]
dr. kelton: i think i am cynical by nature. [laughter] dr. kelton: it has been years since i looked at howard then -- howard zinn. theseoften find that narrative get into their work thisou can't have scholarship critique that idea, others were very sympathetic to what happened to these peoples, but they weren't really capable of peeling it back. this is a team effort. this takes a lot of research to do this. thank you. >> [indiscernible] i don't need a microphone. fores, but we will need it
when you are on tv. >> real quick, i read somewhere where the whites in the united states wiped out something like 97% of the native population. happened,that this yet if you go to southern mexico, especially, practically everybody you see is an indian. em to jive leave -- se somewhere. dr. kelton: that is a very interesting question that you really have to look at the more violent aspects of the united states history and early british colonial history and the different types of colonial regimes. british and later american freeingism was based on up land for your own american farming and that type of colonialism was predicated on
removing native peoples, pushing them off the land. as you are pushing people off the land, you are depriving them of the resources. basic fertility is going to decrease, you are going to lose your ability to increase your population, people are going to die. and cherokees on the trail of tears, what did they die from? diseases, whooping cough, others diseases. that then leads to population collapse where as in the spanish colonial regime, it was based on exploiting a native of labor and keeping a natives as a source of labor in a peasant community, so that is why you have some of disparity.aphic that is a very simple answer to a very complex question. >> i read a book called "arthritis and folk medicine" written in 1960.
what the author says is that because of the way that we have changed our foods and the way that it has changed our bodies, we are more susceptible to viruses and diseases. i was thinking about when you were talking about the indians coming together with the that didn't have something to do with that as well, but they changed from their natural eating of those foods to things that would be more artificially produced them they were used to. dr. kelton: it is an interesting question, i actually started taking about this project by lookingat chairing -- at changes in the cherokee diet, so i didn't examine that aspect into too much detail. imagine, as the native people are being deprived other native game and the
kinds of food, they are now eating salted pork or their crops are being run over by european neighbors and the livestock, yes, you were going to have nutritional problems, so that is certainly something you have to consider. >> what he was mentioning is the inuses cannot live [indiscernible] environment. it is the same for bird flu or cow disease or for people, and as you have different people coming and going in our nation, that is something that you might find more power in. dr. kelton: thank you, thank you. >> one last question? >> it is hard to form a good ofnion, given the history british imperialism, but the
royal proclamation of 1763 appeared to be dedicated to protecting the integrity of the native american communities. i am wondering, might there have been a better outcome for native americans in the future you -- future united states generally if -- dr. kelton: i am not going to go on record saying i wish the by the way. [laughter] difficult question, because what if the american revolution had not succeeded, i don't want to go there, i am just wondering, the situation in canada appears to be a better outcome for natives than the united states, so -- andkelton: so let me say let a response to that by saying, and i did this in the
talk and am guilty, so when we talk, we overgeneralize colonialismbritish is many things. the english were heavily involved in trading and making alliances with the cherokees, so the cherokees did not experience this settle --, they only experienced it when settlers encroached. all of the settlers were getting rebellious and a strategy that they actually implemented, groups like the cherokees, they did make an army to fight against the americans. it was in their interest, this is their opportunity to fight back. so, if the british